Atlanta Agent (AA): What should be the first step for agents looking to increase their productivity?
Mike Prewett (MP): The key question that every agent has to answer is “Where will my business come from this year?” To effectively and specifically answer that question, they will need a comprehensive business plan, and a strategy to support that plan.
A strong mentor or coach can help the agent create the answer that is right for them and their business. The agent should be careful to select a coach or mentor that has either built a strong business themselves or has a proven record in coaching others. I see a lot of “theories” out there that are not practical in daily implementation.
AA: An agent is already successful, but they come to you looking for tips on increasing their productivity. What do you tell them?
MP: Usually, it involves building stronger systems and refining their strategy. One of the key issues that every productive agent faces is that they run out of time and find themselves working too many hours each week. The balance in their lives evaporates, and their personal relationships suffer as they try to run a growing business and appease all the personal commitments they face.
The first look is at the systems that have been put in place to determine if they are, in fact, strong and efficient. The next step would be working with the productive agent to help them leverage their time and resources effectively. I believe that offering the productive agent that type of consulting service is incumbent upon all brokers who want to attract the highly productive associate.
AA: What common mistakes do agents make when trying to boost productivity?
MP: Probably spending money on unproven strategies is the biggest mistake I see. We all receive multiple sales pitches every day that promise a path to riches if we will just invest in their lead generation system. Some work, most don’t. But even with legitimate lead generation programs, the agent needs a strategy to handle the business, and systems in place to support their efforts. The next common mistake I see is hiring for staff or team building before the agents business really warrants that step. Building a consistent flow of business needs to come before team building or administrative hiring.
The third mistake that I most commonly see is tunnel vision on compensation plans. I think a competitive commission structure is absolutely important, but it is not a key driver in an agent’s success. The key element is where can they be the most productive and get the help needed to grow their business. Productivity trumps everything else. And while we are on the subject, when did it stop being the broker’s responsibility to drive quality referrals to their agents?
AA: Finally, what role does technology play in your productivity philosophy?
MP: The right technology solutions are absolutely critical in building a productive real estate career. I say “the right” solutions because there are an unlimited amount of bright shiny toys out there that are attractive and promise to be the ultimate solution…but mastering all of those tools can require the agent to become a software engineer. We are salespeople, and we need the right tools for our particular business to ensure we are as effective as we can be.
Now, I believe it is absolutely the burden of the real estate company (and the broker for that agent) to ensure that they have the right tools available for their business and the appropriate training and advice. We have somehow moved into an industry that expects each individual agent to find and develop their own technology solutions. That is incredibly inefficient, and puts too much of a burden on the individual agent.
Mike Prewett is the president of Century 21 Connect Realty in Atlanta, and before that was the president of Southern REO Associates, a full-service provider that covers more than 246 ZIP codes and 23 counties in Georgia, and sold more than 13,000 properties. A vendor approved real estate brokerage, Southern REO worked with more than 90 clients including Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, HUD, Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Chase, HSBC, Suntrust, NationStar and RBC.